Art has a way of crossing over barriers and bringing together people from very different backgrounds. At UC Berkeley, there is a great movement towards helping everyone become more familiar with Jewish culture. The collections housed at the UC Berkeley are designed to help everyone learn more about Jewish art and culture. They are a celebration of the people, and much can be learned about the Jewish culture through examining the artistic works and cultural items on display in art collections, such as the one at UC Berkeley.
This school is doing an extraordinary job of showcasing some of the most notable Jewish artists in the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life. A recent donation from Tad Taube on behalf of Taube Philanthropies has given this collection a major boost that is sure to help it excel in its mission to spread awareness of Jewish culture, along with bringing to the public forefront an artist that up until now has largely not gotten much recognition.
A Gift of Epic Proportions
The donation from Taube Philanthropies is the largest single monetary gift to the school. At $10.1 million, the Taube Family Arthur Szyk Collection contains paintings, drawings, sketches, diaries, financial records and publications featuring the works. It is a significant collection of the valuable works of Szyk throughout his lifespan, which included the period during the Holocaust. Because the art collection is so vast and encompasses all of his work, it is even rarer and precious. Also, a vast majority of the pieces in this collection have never been displayed publicly.
The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life is one of the best places this collection could be housed. The UC Berkeley has one of the best Jewish collections of any educational institution in the world and the third largest collection in the country. Furthermore, UC Berkeley has relationships that will allow the collection to be part of traveling exhibitions. Finally, the school has made a serious commitment to ensuring Jewish culture is explored and documented, which means the collection will get plenty of marketing to draw attention to it.
Who Was Szyk?
Arthur Szyk may not be a household name. His works have not been given the attention they so deserve. However, the collection of his art and other artifacts will help to spread awareness of who he was and what he did. His life was pretty amazing from his birth in 1894 to his death in 1951. He lived mostly as a refugee, moving from country to country until settling in the United States in the 1940s.
This Polish-born Jewish artist was well traveled with knowledge of a variety of languages, including Yiddish, French, Hebrew, and Polish. He was known as a political artist whose works reflected the things he saw in Jewish life before and after World War II. His work also focuses on the Bible and many subjects relating to Jewish culture. They have hints of works from the Renaissance and medieval styles. However, the majority of his work focuses on Hitler and the Holocaust, representing the horrors of that time.
The Helping Hand
Szyk’s work may have never been made public on the level it is now without the help of Tad Taube. The chairman of Taube Philanthropies has been very active at the UC Berkeley, helping to spread awareness of Jewish culture through donations. It was his 2010 support that enabled the movement of the school’s collection to The Magnes Museum Collection of Jewish Art and Life.
Taube has great respect for Szyks and a desire to help the artist get the recognition he so deserves. The connection between Taube and Szyks is only made stronger because of their shared Polish Jewish background. Taube’s parents were even great friends with the Szyks when he moved to the U.S. Such a bond between the artist and the philanthropist led to this significant donation that has forever changed the UC Berkeley’s collection.
Who Is Tad Taube?
Tad Taube’s organization, Taube Philanthropies, is focused on helping Jewish causes in the United States. It also provides support in Poland and Israel. Tad Taube is a real estate mogul who uses his influence and money to ensure Jewish causes are well funded. Besides the UC Berkeley donation, he has also recently made a significant donation of $15 million to the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, which is located in Israel.
Taube was born in Poland and fled the country in 1931, but his family moved to the United States in 1939. He was very young but has never forgotten his ties to Poland and the culture his family left behind right before the beginning of World War II. His love for his homeland and his people has fueled his passion to honor and further the Jewish culture.
It was in the 1940s in the U.S. when Taube first came into possession of the Szyk’s collection. His dream is for it to become well known. It has not seen the public attention he believes it deserves. Doing so also furthers his larger goals of helping Jews and non-Jews to become interested in the revival of Jewish culture in Poland and to help people understand more about Polish Jews.
This donation to the UC Berkeley will help to expand the already successful collections of The Magnes Museum Collection of Jewish Art and Life. However, the passion behind the donation is unparalleled. There is no doubt that Tad Taube is committed to the cause of helping to spread awareness of Jewish culture to everyone. Making the works of Szyk available to such a large crowd, not only at the school but through its partnerships and traveling exhibitions, will only advance the goals of The Magnes Museum Collection of Jewish Art and Life and Taube Philanthropies. There is also a significant value to the Szyk collection as it represents the Polish Jewish community of which Taube is a part and that can greatly benefit from the public notice that can be gained in coordination with UC Berkeley.